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How WebRTC is making enterprise inroads

John Moore | July 11, 2014
Jeff Singman operates two brick-and-mortar specialty toy stores in New Jersey and has wanted to provide an ecommerce website as well. Singman says his two Toy Genius stores, which he co-owns with his wife, offer shoppers a high level of product knowledge and customer service to stand out from other toy sellers. Employees wear lab coats and demonstrate products for customers. Gift wrapping is free of charge.

With JurisLink, on the other hand, attorneys log in at the JurisLink website or JurisLink's iPad app to schedule and conduct a video conference with their clients. The clients use a kiosk JurisLink installs in county jails or detention centers (currently eight facilities in North Carolina and Virginia). Meetings aren't recorded, the company says, and meeting data is encrypted.

Trabucco said the WebRTC/CaféX solution makes it easier for users. The technology combination automatically initiates webcams and microphones, which didn't happen with the Lync-based offering.

"If you go go to the [JurisLink] webpage, video conferencing will just open and your camera and mic are going to be on," Trabucco says. "You're not going to have to remember to hit this or that button to turn on the mic or the camera. There are no barriers to enter the meeting."

Sajeel Hussain, vice president of product marketing at CaféX, sees wide applicability for WebRTC, citing education, healthcare and insurance as examples in addition to the legal field.

Meanwhile, Saraj Mudigonda, senior business development manager at Imagination Technologies, a London-based company that unveiled a WebRTC media engine in April, see companies using WebRTC in applications such as customer support (along with education and healthcare).

Lack of Universal Browser Support Hinders WebRTC's Further Spread

The most obvious obstacle in the path of WebRTC usage is incomplete browser coverage. Getting Microsoft on board with WebRTC will go a long way toward filling the coverage gap. Bush believes that IE support is perhaps 18 months away.

In the meantime, companies are working around the issue.

McFarland says Voice4Net focuses its WebRTC activity on contact centers and doesn't go after the consumer space. "We don't believe WebRTC is ready for the mass market yet or the consumer side," he says. "It's not embraced by every browser. You can't force the consumer to pull up Chrome."

Vendors, however, are working to accommodate users who come to a WebRTC equipped site but lack a compliant browser. Genband, for instance, provides its Spidr WebRTC Gateway, which takes on a number of roles including the mediation of the browser issue. The gateway checks a user's browser type and version and pushes a plug-in if the browser doesn't support WebRTC.

Genband uses a commercial plug-in from AddLive; Bush cites the availability of several commercial and open source plug-ins that provide WebRTC-like functionality. Developers have also created Flash-based plug-ins that perform WebRTC-like behavior, he adds.

Singman said Genband's technology will let his retail website move forward, even without ubiquitous browser support. "WebRTC is fairly straightforward, but we're in the early stages," he says. "There are things we're learning every day."


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